TeachMeet Beginnings … in Falkirk?

teachmeet  blog


I was asked casually recently if I would consider organising a teachmeet event here in Falkirk. I’ve attended four different teachmeet type events – the first one was in 2007 . I must have heard about it via someone’s blog at the time. When I signed up to go along and be part of the event, I recognised 3 or 4 names on the list   .. but when I look at that same list now, at least 40 of the names are known to me – how my learning network has grown!! Since then, I’ve attended TeachMeet08 SLF2008, TeachMeetSE09 and LeadMeet09 ….. and I’ve also signed up for TeachmeetSLF09. It’s evident from the wiki activity that the TeachMeet concept is extremely popular in the UK, and further afield  but I wasn’t sure where TeachMeet originated from.

Organising one here in Falkirk seemed very daunting but it soon became clear that at least a few others might be willing to become ‘co-organisers’. Cassie, Rich and Scott seem ‘up for it’, but how do we spread the message to others in the authority? Over the next two weeks, however, I’ll be in contact with the ICT co-ordinators from each primary school and it seems like a good opportunity to introduce them to the idea. Teachers from schools in each cluster come along for a half day to hear about ‘what’s new in ICT in our authority’ and I have a short slot to talk about a possible Falkirk TeachMeet and get some feedback from them – but where to begin? It seems to me that I need to tell them the whole story in order to ‘sell the idea’. I considered sharing the rules, etc. but the gaps in my knowledge about about the origin of how TeachMeet started led me to ask my twitter network and, as usual, helpful replies began flooding in. Thanks to Nick, Ian, Rob, Ewan, David, another David and Andy ( apologies if I’ve forgotten to mention anyone who replied)

So here’s the story …. as I understand it.

The story of TeachMeet begins in May 2006. Ian S wrote a blog post about how much he regretted not having been there. He said  …

 “In 2006 I missed an opportunity. Its not often I look back and ‘I wish I had done that’ but this was definitely one of them.”

I can understand why Ian was sorry that he didn’t accept the invitation to attend. According to the ScotEduBlogMeetup wiki it was a great success. This is a quote from the wiki:

 “What a night!   We had a great and productive night and the wifi worked! “

Andrew Brown also mentioned the impact that ‘meetup’ had on him in this blog post. 

He wrote:

Last year I went through for both eLive06 and TeachMeet06, which were brilliant. It was a great opportunity to meet up with people that I had been reading online for some time, and put faces, personalities and perhaps most importantly contacts to the words and pictures streaming in to my aggregator. About a dozen people, some of whom I had met before, but a great opportunity. I came home on the train the next day very positive and enthusiastic about the future of developing community around the country/world in using technology in education.”

    David Muir teachmeet 1 mediumprovided a link on twitter to a photograph taken on the evening in the Jolly Judge in Edinburgh. He mentioned that it was taken  …… “before we invented the name“.

So when did the term ‘TeachMeet’ first appear? How did it evolve from the May 2006 ScotEduBlogMeetup …… to newtechmeet…. to the TeachMeet name (and home) we know today?

Well ……  I’ve found this great discussion of how the name TeachMeet was coined and I think I can trace the ‘invention’ of the name back to David Muir’s contribution to the wiki. David wrote an entry on the discussion area.

He had this to say:

” I posted a whole pile of suggestions – mostly for my own amusement rather than as serious suggestions. I like the sound of ScotEduSlam but I think it falls down on the “does what it says on the tin” criteria. The other one I like is TeachMeet. I saw that Ewan called this page “newtechmeet” and remembered that a wise man once said, “It’s not the tech, it’s the teach!”  So I came up with TeachMeet… which almost rhymes.”

So there it is –  the name ‘TeachMeet‘ was ‘born’ 🙂 …. but I still need to find the answer to another twitter question I posed:

How did [TeachMeet] grow so big so quickly?”

The twitter responses all point to one source:

  • “How did [TeachMeet] grow so big so quickly?” My guess would be that it was thanks to @ewanmcintosh
  • @ewanmcintosh was the real driving force behind teachmeet but it was also an idea whose time had come!
  • @ewanmcintosh For which we are eternally grateful!
  • TeachMeet came out of many conversations and frustration with establishment. Sleepless nights & £s from me 😉

The last entry here came from Ewan McIntosh and I’m pleased that he worked so hard to help TeachMeet grow ‘so big so quickly’  ……… and there might even be one in Falkirk  at some point to add to the ‘TeachMeet portfolio’ 🙂

25 thoughts on “TeachMeet Beginnings … in Falkirk?

    • It would be great if you could come along ….. assuming that we get it ‘off the ground’. I’m not sure how to reach Secondary staff, though? Does your school have wi-fi? A lot of arranging to do to pull something like this off, I think!

      • Easiest way to contact Sec. Staff is via the DHT CPD Coordinators. There is only 8, so even sending them an email with links to previous teachmeets.

        Feel free to come to my, new build, school to see the facilities. Large hall with huge projector screen and wifi. There is a PT that would probably help. I’ll spk to SMT tmrw, to see what they think.

        I think only a select grp will attend but the lack of hierarchy and cost should attract teachers. There was a startup meeting last yr for subject based informal teacher meets but it has fizzled out. We are starting TeacherCommunities (no management). We do have a pretty full calendar of meetings so…….


        • Thanks for the info about contacting secondary teachers. I’ll research who they are and send the emails.

          I’d love to pay a visit to your school – I’ve just worked out who you are and what school you’re from 🙂

          I’ll email you tomorrow …. could do with your support if a Falkirk TeachMeet is to happen!

  1. A really interesting post Margaret, thank you.

    I’ve been pondering an TeachMeetEastLothian, but I’m unsure of demand. I’m also wondering how to expand the market if I were to organise one. There’s nothing to say that TeachMeets have to be ‘Tech-Focused’ is there? I think it would be interesting to get more presentations on ideas/issues/developments which don’t involve ICT – it isn’t the be all…? There are also still a lot of teachers out there who’ve never even heard of TeachMeet, and by their very nature they tend not to be technophiles – I’d love to be able to appeal to them.

    I’ll ponder/discuss this more at TeachEat SLF I think.

    • Like you, Fearghal, I’ve no idea how this idea will be received. I know what you mean by attracting the non ‘technophiles’ …. but then again, I’m probably more like them than like the ‘techies’ that invented TeachMeet in the first place! I suppose we just have to push the phrase that keeps getting mentioned re this – ‘it’s not about the tech, it’s about the teach’?

      I do worry about keen teachers getting put off because they don’t know how to edit the wiki, though. If we get as far as actually arranging one, I’m tempted to just ask for names, and add them myself.

      The content of the presentations is a good point. Should it be ICT based …. or is TeachMeet more about the form of CPD – the ‘unconference’ style?

      Lots of pondering/discussing needed at this end too, I think 🙂

      • I think having a mix of pry. and sec. examples of ACfE in practice would be best. It may not be ICT based. I’m sure I could learn a lot about integrating/interdisp’ly teaching from Pry teachers !

        I’m sure SMTs will meet and chat about developments but unpromoted staff, like me, may not be getting exposed to these trials.


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    • That would be great, Lynne! It would be super to have you there …. think we’re up to 6 or 7 talking about coming along – and it’s only an ’embryo’ 🙂

    • Thanks for this, Kenneth – I’m going to try to make a Prezi to show the ICT co-ordinators this week, and will definately include some screenshots from the links you provided.

  3. Hi Margaret,

    a very interesting trip down memory lane! The first ‘TeachMeet’ I was at was in Edinburgh in 2006 (the one noted above), which was little more than a great chat with a few people in a pub and then dinner for the 8 that were left at the end of the night. When you speak with David Muir, John Johnston or Ewan McIntosh about it, they however met up in the September before it at what was then SETT to do pretty much the same thing, so I suppose it really started in 2005?

    Iin my opinion, the reason it grew was because of two crucial factors – 1. it’s a great idea to get people to share in a really unpressured, democratic kind of way, and 2. Ewan McIntosh – who’s enthusiasm, connectedness and I suppose tenacity just made things happen.

    For what it’s also worth, my major criticism of teachmeet is that it’s too techy – how I would love a teacher to stand up and talk about what they did for ‘circle time’, or how they got through to their reluctant/shy pupil – that would be worth so much more to my development than ‘yet another cool tool’ that I feel it is in danger of becoming.

    Just my tuppence worth! 🙂

    • I agree, I’m gonna try to make an SQA PD Workshop for Product Design. They tend to be run by Senior Markers/Moderators so you get ‘best practice’ tips for teaching. Nothing ‘techy’ but just best practice.

      I was at an ADVHPD one in Jan, came away with ideas for my S1 classes not just AdvPD. It’s also great to network with other subject teachers.

      It is a saturday though……..


    • Thanks, Andrew.

      Your comment has given me lots of ‘food for thought’. I’m particularly interested in your last paragraph and the ‘too techy’ criticisms of Teachmeet.

      This is something that’s been worrying me, too – off for a re-think

  4. Hi Margaret,

    I’d like to take part in a Falkirk Teachmeet. I could try to get some (discrete) SQA sponsorship and speakers if wanted (bearing in mind the democratic nature of the event).

    I agree with AB re techy content danger. Just a thought.

    I am a small part of the SQA PD workshops referred to by Mr Tait – maybe connect?


    • Thanks, Gordon!

      This is great news …. I’m sure the others here who are keen to get something organised will be delighted, too. Hopefully our small group of interested folk will grow.

      I think you and AB are right to warn about the danger of too much techy content. I’ll definately contact Nick tomorrow. It sounds like he’s saying the same thing, and that ‘best practice’ (or even- ‘look, here’s something I’ve tried’) might be the way to go.

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